Helen Spafford

Helen Spafford, an associate professor in the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa's College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR), has been named a Science Policy Fellow for the Entomological Society of America. She is one of only five scientists across the country to be designated in 2015.

The competitive fellowship program was created in 2014 to support scientists for two-year terms. As a fellow, Spafford attends virtual and in-person educational events to learn more about science policy and funding decisions made at the federal level of government. She also participates in conferences that focus on developing federal science policy and budgets, helps draft policy statements, and meets with legislators during four in-person visits to Washington, D.C., over the two-year period.

“Essentially the aim of the program is to create a cadre of scientists who have knowledge of policy and politics and can advise on matters of science that affect the public interest,” explained Spafford. Her expertise in biosecurity is crucial to her role as a fellow and is especially relevant to issues in Hawaiʻi.

Spafford has won several awards for teaching, including CTAHR’s 2013 Excellence in Teaching award. She is skilled at conveying scientific information to non-specialists. She has also served as a mentor to post-doctoral women scientists as part of Elsevier Foundation’s Tropical Connections: Career Development Workshop.

“This is an exciting program,” said Spafford. “There is so much to learn and I feel there’s a real chance to make a difference by serving as a fellow. Ideally, both scientific and legislative processes function for the greater good, to improve human welfare and conserve the earth for future generations.”

More about the Entomological Society of America

The Entomological Society of America is the largest organization in the world serving the professional and scientific needs of entomologists and individuals in related disciplines. Founded in 1889, the nonprofit has nearly 7,000 members affiliated with educational institutions, health agencies, private industry and government.

—By Frederkia Bain